No Play to All Play – How Rahul Sehgal Came Home to Games

I met Rahul a few months ago in the offices of Backstage Pass. He looked almost lanky, a sharp voice and clear perception gleaning through his eyes and a casual authority over what he does seemed to make a large part of Rahul. I recognized him as Rahul, even before he said “Hello.”

mentor-rahul-sehgal

Game Design Mentor – Rahul Sehgal

Rahul Sehgal is the founder of Roach Interactive and a senior faculty at Backstage Pass. We are bringing you Rahul’s journey and his impressions about work and games:

Childhood

“My dad was a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force. So I had to spend my childhood in some of the remote corners of India. However, I would get to play with lots of kids when I visited my extended family in Delhi and Shimla.Now and then I would get to play video games and PC games, but I never was an avid gamer.”

Enter Games

“Later I joined the merchant navy. I was there for about 18 years. I retired from merchant navy and was pondering over my next phase of life. I strongly felt, ‘This time it should not be just work. It should be a lot more than that.’ One path was to make games. Somehow my heart and my mind kept going back to making games.  And I started looking into the idea. The more I understood, the more convinced I was. Finally, I reached the point where I felt ‘This is it.’”

VFS and Later

“The next logical step was to enrol in a school. I went to Vancouver Film School, Canada to join the Game Design program. It was a very demanding course and taught me a lot, I mean, a lot. Without school, I would have taken about 4 years to learn all that I learnt. It was an awesome experience.”

“After graduating from VFS, I worked as an intern in QA at Piranha Games in Vancouver. Then I moved to Gameloft, India. While Piranha gave me the taste of the trenches of a startup, Gameloft gave me the exposure to game designing in an MNC. Finally, in 2011, I moved out and launched Roach Interactive. Currently, we are preparing for the launch of ‘Birds of Light’ for the mobile and PC platforms.”

Returning to India

“Soon after launching my company, Backstage Pass offered me the teaching position. It was a great thing to happen to me. Since then there is no looking back.  I develop, I learn, and I teach.”

Want to Work?

“Let me talk about what you would need the most to land a job in this field. Participate in game development as soon as you can. The game you helped develop should be available on Google Play, and App Store or for PCs. When your name shows up in the credits section, it means that you were part of the whole game development cycle. It talks a lot about you. The second most important factor is to have a well-curated LinkedIn profile.”

“What are the benefits of working in this field? It is getting interesting day by day. We are going to be a very highly paid industry with a wide variety of roles, not just a game developer or an artist. Also, this is a field wherein you don’t have to wear formals to work and say the right things. You can wear shorts to work and say what you think is right. Many opportunities for freelancing exist, and online collaboration with indie development companies abroad is a reality. And you can associate with them to earn both money and experience.”

Or Want to Turn an Entrepreneur?

“Before you become an entrepreneur, you should build an alternative source of income. Expect to fail in releasing the first couple of games. You need a lot of modesty and perseverance to stay on this path. And finding a good team is another factor that makes for a successful game.”

“And the benefits are well worth the effort and risks. Gaming is a field where even high school student can earn a couple of lakhs a month. Education facilitates but is not required. All you need is training in developing quality games, the ability to collaborate and build a team, and understand how to market games.”

Rahul Sehgal

Pocket Gamer Connects 2016

PG Connects, an annual event organized by Steel Media Ltd., was held in Bangalore between 21 – 22 April.

We are presenting the first-hand account of the event from Rahul Sehgal, Backstage Pass senior faculty and Founder & Creative Director of Roach Interactive. Some impressions from Rahul:

What is the significance of this conference?

“India has 2 major annual events for gaming, NASSCOM’s Game Development Conference (GDC) caters to all forms of gaming whereas Pocket Gamer Connects focuses on mobile games.”

Who attended the event?

“Game designers, game developers, students, bloggers, indie development companies, the Press, and just about anyone who has something to do with mobile games. Many speakers from abroad. The whole ecosystem was present. “

What was your talk about subjective design?

I discussed how to engage casual through core players through appropriate game design.

How do such conferences benefit the attendees?

“The opportunity to learn, connect, and showcase is enormous. For example, you can set up a table for an insignificant fee and showcase your game under development. The feedback you get is priceless. If you are an indie developer, you can find resources. If you are a studio, you can meet publishers. You can meet business developers who can market the game. Not to mention, such events organize competitions. These competitions kick off typically months ahead of the event. Isn’t that a great platform to showcase talent?”

Your advice for students of gaming?

All students should attend such events. Entry fee for students is subsidised. You get to experience the whole universe of mobile gaming. That can be a transforming experience. Also, the networking, the exposure, meeting the old and new friends, and the very vibes…all of them count immensely.

Anibrain School of Media Design's Showdown 2016

Showdown 2016 – Backstage Pass Team is the Runner Up

Ranging Tornadoes, with Mir and Prakash, was declared the runner up (http://schoolofmediadesign.com/showdown-2016/game-showdown-result) in the Games category of Showdown 2016.

Showdown is an annual event that attracts national and international participants to Pune where Anibrain School of Media and Design hosts this event. What makes this win sweeter is the fact that Mir and Prakash have been studying game development only for a few months now. They are in the first year of B.Tech. (Game Development) at Backstage Pass.

We are bringing out a blog to showcase what propelled such young boys to the centre stage at a prestigious event.

As I waited for them, I saw two lanky and shy-looking boys walk into the room. After the introductory handshakes, I deliberately took them on a trip of small talk. By the end of the talk, I saw they were smiling, nodding and chipping in with a word or two.

Mir Fasiuddin has always been an avid player of console, mobile, and PC games. Every time he would get a better grade, his family would buy him a game. And he had been showered with games throughout his childhood. When he passed his 10th class, the gift was a coveted Wii box. His eyes lit up even as he mentioned his Wii.

Mir says “I did not want to pursue a traditional career. So I started googling for offbeat careers and I found Backstage Pass.” He adds, “I knew I wanted to make a career in gaming and I should opt for the B.Tech. programme. So I picked up the mathematics stream in 11th and 12th classes.”

Jaya Prakash says, “I always used to have my way at home. My parents knew that whatever I do, I do responsibly so many decisions were left to me. I wasn’t a big time gamer. But after I joined a private boarding school for my 11th grade, I realized I was part of a factory that makes machines called engineers. And I knew the life of being a programmer because I know many in my family who are programmers. And that was a big no for me.” His eyes narrowed even as those words poured out. He adds, “When I told my parents I wanted to study gaming after my 12th grade, they were clueless. And my cousin stepped in to back my decision. (I owe him something.) Finally, I am here doing what I wanted to do.”

I set on to understand the bonding between them. “Well, we did a class assignment together and made a presentation. And that rocked bigtime. So we know we make a good team.”

And now comes the test, “What made you participate in the game?” Mir quips, “I saw the announcement on the notice board and thought we should give it a try. So I promptly roped in Jaya Prakash.”

“Since this is an international event, we weren’t sure where we would stand but thought we should at least participate.”, adds Jaya Prakash.

Then they set on to research. And learnt many things in their journey towards submitting the entry. How do we draw up a game design document, how do we engage a gamer, what traditional Indian games are popular, what locale do we choose, what choices do we give the player and so on. Many decisions with a lot of gut feel. And they submitted and forgot about it.

And when the results were out, they were in for a pleasant surprise. Raging Tornadoes was declared as the runner up.

“What did you learn?” I asked them. “Many aspects of game development, from writing the game design document to game psychology and some tools too.” Says Mir.

“The courage and now my parents know that I will find a niche for myself in gaming,” adds Prakash.

Even as I congratulated the boys, I could listen to their eyes say that the journey transformed them from within.

By Surya Prabha Vallae